United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division
WILLIAM ROBERTS, Administrator of the Estate of PAULINE ROBERTS, and POLLY ROBERTS WILLMAN, Administratrix of the Estate of WILLIAM ROBERTS, Plaintiffs,
EDDIE GIRDER, et al., Defendants. [*]
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
K. CALDWELL, CHIEF JUDGE
Plaintiffs, Polly Roberts Willman, in her capacity as the
Administratrix of the Estate of William Roberts, and William
Roberts, as Administrator of the Estate of Pauline Roberts,
(“Plaintiffs”), bring the present complaint under
42 U.S.C. § 1983 alleging that, in order to advance a
re-election agenda, various constitutional and state law
harms occurred when the defendants, government officials from
the city of Somerset, Kentucky, (“City
Defendants”), conspired against Williams Roberts and
demolished the Roberts family property.
other things, Plaintiffs allege that City Defendants violated
their procedural due process rights by summarily ejecting
Williams Roberts from the family property and destroying it
without proper notice or a hearing. City Defendants filed a
motion to dismiss (DE 17) the procedural due process claim.
Plaintiffs then filed a motion under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 17(a)(3) to substitute Rachelle Bombe and Polly
Willman, along with William Roberts, for the Estate of
briefing, a hearing in this case was held on September 29,
2016. The matter is now ripe for review. For the foregoing
reasons, City Defendants' motion to dismiss (DE 17) will
be granted, and Plaintiffs' motion to substitute (DE 22)
will be denied.
following facts are taken from Plaintiffs' Complaint.
Roberts died intestate on November 17, 1989 (Compl. ¶
8). She was survived by her three children: her son, William,
and two daughters, Polly Willman and Rachelle Bombe. (Compl.
¶ 10). Before her death, Pauline Roberts owned real
property located at 117 Sagasser Street in Somerset,
Kentucky. (Compl. ¶ 9, 17). William Roberts lived with
his mother in the final years of her life at 117 Sagasser
Street and continued to live on the property after her
3, 2013, Somerset City Attorney Carrie Wiese mailed a
certified letter addressed to the “Estate of Pauline
Roberts” containing allegations that the dwelling was
unfit for human habitation, occupancy, or use. (Compl. ¶
23). The letter also notified the recipient that a nuisance
abatement hearing to address the property's condition was
set for 1:40 p.m., May 23, 2013, at Somerset City Hall. Five
days later on May 8, 2013, William Roberts signed a return
receipt for the letter, and he subsequently hired an
attorney, John Prather, Jr., to represent him at the hearing.
(Compl. ¶ 26). Once retained, Prather sent a letter to
Wiese advising her of his representation and informing her of
a property remediation plan that William Roberts was in the
process of preparing. Prather also notified Wiese of a
scheduling conflict that he had with the day and time of the
scheduled hearing. (Compl. ¶ 37). Wiese agreed to
postpone the hearing, but no new date was ever set. (Compl.
23, 2013, however, Prather met informally with City Attorney
Wiese, along with Somerset Building Inspector Wes Finley and
Somerset Zoning Officer Dennis Crist at City Hall. (Compl.
¶ 44-45). At the outset, Wiese directed Tracy Stevens,
an employee responsible for taking and keeping all official
records during nuisance abatement hearings, not to take
minutes of the meeting, as it was “off the
record.” (Compl. ¶ 45). The informal meeting
proceeded, and the participants discussed a possible
remediation plan for the Roberts property.
the next fourteen months, Roberts made little effort to
address the City of Somerset's concerns with the Roberts
property. It was during this period, however, that Plaintiffs
allege the gears of the government began to turn in the plot
to rid the City of Somerset of the alleged property
Complaint states that in August, 2014 Zoning Officer Crist
approached Tracy Stevens demanding records of the May 23,
2013 Roberts property nuisance abatement hearing. Tracy
Stevens, the record keeper, informed Crist that she did not
take notes at the hearing because she was told not to.
(Compl. Ex. F, Stevens Affidavit at ¶ 9) (“Mrs.
Wiese specifically told me the meeting was ‘not
official' and directed me not to take any notes or
otherwise record the meeting.”).
thereafter on August 14, 2014, Roberts received a letter from
Crist that stated a nuisance hearing was held on May 23,
2013. It reads in full:
Please be advised that a hearing was held at Somerset City
Hall on Thursday, May 23rd, 2013, pursuant to notice mailed
and posted, regarding the above referred to property. You
were represented by your attorney Mr. John Prather.
Evidence was introduced by Somerset building inspector Wes
Finley, the said property is a hazard and structurally unsafe
for human habitation.
Since nothing has been done to correct these issues, you are
hereby ORDERED to repair or vacate said property within 30
days of the date hereof. Otherwise, the City of Somerset will
take whatever action is necessary to eliminate this problem.
The City of Somerset is willing to assist in helping you move
your belongings and providing a storage unit at no cost to
you. We will also take care of the dilapidated structure at
(Compl, Ex. G.).
September 16, 2014, Roberts received a second letter warning
him that property had to be vacated at once. (Compl., Ex. J.)
The letter also listed several evidentiary findings that were
found at the alleged May 23, 2013 hearing. (Compl. Ex. J.).
Roberts did not respond to either letter, though Plaintiffs
do not dispute that he received them. Plaintiffs allege Mr.
Prather never received notice of the letters because his name
was excluded on the letters. (Compl. ¶73). On September
19, 2014, the City demolished the Roberts residence.